If you are searching for a local volunteer activity that will improve the environment, the Forest Preserve District has multiple opportunities for you to get involved.
Natural resource management workdays are offered throughout the year. They allow participants a chance to contribute to their community, support their local environment, meet fellow nature-lovers, and get some fresh air and exercise.
The October-December workdays usually involve cutting brush and dragging it to a designated location, said Emily Kenny, the Forest Preserve District's volunteer services supervisor. The brush is burned during the event or chipped later. And no matter what the location or day-of conditions, there is always plenty of work to do, Kenny added.
"It is a good workout most days and a participant's sense of accomplishment will, hopefully, sooth any aching muscles," she said.
An RSVP for the Forest Preserve District’s volunteer workdays is required for all individuals and groups. Call Kenny at 815.722.7364 or email email@example.com. Please dress for outdoor work and the weather. Wear long pants, closed-toe shoes and work gloves.
Volunteer workdays are set for 8 a.m. to noon. Here is the schedule through December:
- Sunday, October 3, Hickory Creek Preserve – LaPorte Road Access, Mokena
- Sunday, October 17, Joliet Junior College, Joliet
- Saturday, October 23, Keepataw Preserve, Lemont
- Thursday, October 28, Romeoville Prairie Nature Preserve, Romeoville (Park at Isle a la Cache.)
- Saturday, November 6, Hickory Creek Preserve – Hickory Creek Junction, Mokena
- Saturday, November 13, Keepataw Preserve, Lemont
- Saturday, November 27, “Work Off the Turkey Workday,” Hickory Creek Preserve – LaPorte Road Access, Mokena
- Sunday, December 5, Alessio Prairie, Crest Hill
- Tuesday, December 7, Old Plank Road Trail at Wolf Road, Mokena
- Sunday, December 12, Hickory Creek Preserve – LaPorte Road Access, Mokena
- Saturday, December 18, Hammel Woods – Route 59 Access, Shorewood
LEARN MORE ABOUT VOLUNTEERING
What to expect
Volunteers who attend the workdays will be given information on safety procedures, proper restoration techniques, site-specific details before breaking into smaller groups to remove invasive and nonnative species from the preserve.
"This usually is done with loppers and handsaws that we provide to volunteers to use that day," Kenny said. "A break is taken a few hours in so participants should bring snacks and water. After regrouping, restoration continues and when we are done for the day, we gather our materials, check out and say our farewells."
Kenny added that it is important to be on time for workdays so that all of the proper instructions are received.
And newbies shouldn't worry because, "There is always an experienced volunteer you can check in with for questions or clarifications throughout the event," Kenny said.
If you are new to workdays, you can simply RSVP to Kenny, sign a waiver and work for the day. After attending one or more workdays, some volunteers decide to become Prairie People Volunteers, which is a long-term commitment that requires additional training.
"Workdays are a great option for individuals who are looking for community service hours or just want to try an activity before committing to a Prairie People Volunteer position," Kenny said.
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